Arsene Wenger has backed unsettled wingers Theo Walcott and Andrei Arshavin to continue their revival at the club, and even assured them that their improved goal-scoring can be rewarded with a more central role.
Walcott and Arshavin have both been known to play more comfortably through the middle than on the flanks but the Gunners’ crowded attack has limited their opportunities to play forward.
Wednesday evening’s League Cup match against Coventry City allowed both men to deliver an impressive scoring performance and following Arsenal’s 6-1 home win, Wenger was quick to praise the duo who have come in for criticism over the last year.
“I am not against it [Walcott playing forward], not at all. We will try. At the moment we have a big competition up front, we have a different formula and the team is doing well,” Wenger told Arsenal’s official website.
The manager added: “His time will come for that and at the moment we have to be a bit patient. He is a great finisher now, Walcott, in front of goal he is absolutely amazing.”
While Walcott was not loaned out recently like Arshavin was, his future with the Gunners came under intense scrutiny last month when contract talks stalled and the England international reportedly sought a move.
Wenger played down prospects of the player’s exit, maintaining focus on the present, not the future.
“We all want him to stay. I always said exactly the same. I always said let’s hope that we can sign up and extend [his contract]. I speak to Theo of course. To his agents? We are always in touch with them and you have to give us some time to sort that out,” the Frenchman elaborated.
Arshavin’s struggles with pace and effectiveness were well documented throughout a difficult last season but Wenger assured the club’s supporters that the Russian’s efficiency is on the rise again.
“Arshavin’s best position looks to be behind the striker now because that’s where his vision, the creative side of his game, can be very efficient. When he has to work on the flank it is sometimes working against him because he has to work too hard up and down. But when he’s central he always had an influence on the game,” the gaffer concluded.